Probably the most common question asked on blogs, forums and social sites related to throwing knives is, “What is the best throwing knife for beginners?” It’s a great question, but there’s no single right way to answer it. It depends on your budget. It depends on your preferred style of throwing. It depends on your goals or reasons for throwing. There are lots of great knives out there that are great for beginners.
But you know what it does NOT depend on? Your skill level. A good throwing knife is a good throwing knife. Period. Doesn’t matter if you’ve been throwing for 40 years or if this is Day One for you. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and that’s pretty much how it goes with buying throwing knives too.
The knives on this list are on the low end, price-wise, and the reason for that is because most beginners are just trying this thing out and aren’t ready to commit big money to it.
For those beginners who have a little more to spend and want high quality knives, I’ll be writing another article on high end throwing knives soon, so look for it (I’ll link it up in from this article once its written).
Sneak Peak: Beginner Throwing Knife Sets…
Do Yourself A Favor: Buy A Set
You’ll also notice that I included the word “set” in the title of this article. When you’re learning how to throw knives, you will want multiple knives – all the same type – to build consistency, speed up your learning curve, and to keep you from going insane walking back and forth after every single knife throw.
You can also just find knives that are sold as singles…and buy 3 or more of them to make your own set. If you want to go that route, I recommend Cold Steel throwing knives, as they are more durable than cheap stainless steel blades and are still pretty affordable.
I would not recommend mixing and matching individual knives, though, until you are moving out of the pure beginner phase and have some skills already. Every knife is different, and that means that every knife rotates differently, so sticking with a set of knives that are all the same will help you improve faster. Consistency is everything when it comes to learning to throw knives (go read that article).
What Features Make A Knife Good For Beginners?
I didn’t know anything about knife throwing when I first got into it, so I just picked out some throwing knives on Amazon that looked cool. That was it. But now I know a little better. If you’re trying to decide on your first thrower, here are a few things to consider…
What Are The Best Size Throwing Knives For Beginners?
In many other areas of life, it seems like beginners should start out with something small, lightweight, or low-powered…and then move up as skill improves. That makes a lot of sense when it comes to truck driving, jumbo jet flying, Olympic weight lifting, and whiskey drinking.
Start with something simple first, then move up to the big boy toys later on, right?
But knife throwing seems to be a little different.
Having a little more weight and decent size to hold onto actually helps you pick up the feel for it faster. With those teeny tiny knives, you can barely feel what’s happening as you grip and release the knife. But put a solid chunk of steel in your hands, and now you have something registering in your brain. Your fingers can feel what’s going on.
Not only that, but a heavier knife will be less likely to get blown off course by wind and air resistance, and that weight will also make it more likely to sink into the target board and get a solid stick.
So larger throwing knives are typically going to be easier to learn with. Don’t be afraid of it. Suck it up, Buttercup! Grab that big knife and throw it like you mean it!
Should Throwing Knives Be Sharp?
The “official” answer is NO. Whether you’re a total newbie or a seasoned pro, throwing knives should never be sharpened and should not have any edge at all. That way you can throw them safely and easily from both the handle and the blade without hurting yourself.
That’s the official answer used by hobbyists, stage performers and competitors. You might come up with a different answer. But that’s up to you.
Regardless of how you intend to use your knives, the danger of slicing into your fingers with sharp knives is real enough. Fortunately, there are techniques for throwing sharpened knives without cutting yourself (go read that article too).
Should Beginners Use Perfectly Balanced Throwing Knives?
I recently read an article by Timothy Martinez Jr. on Knife-Depot.com where he says that beginners will have the easiest time learning to throw a blade heavy knife with a hammer grip. I definitely agree that beginners should start with a simple hammer grip (Mike “Alamo” Bainton recommends that too, and I first learned from one of his videos). But I think that for rotational/spin throwing, it’s easier to start out with an evenly balanced knife rather than a blade heavy or handle heavy one.
But I am not an expert on these things, so if I am wrong…sorry about that. But it just seems easier (i.e. less frustrating for beginners) to figure out your distances for both half and full spins if your knife is perfectly balanced, as the distances will be spread out more evenly.
All the knives I’m about to recommend to you are evenly balanced for throwing, so your half spin and full spin distances will be fairly evenly spaced apart.
Come to think of it, if you’re a beginner, you might not understand what I’m talking about. If that’s you, take a peek at the entry in my Throwing Knife FAQ series to help you understand what is half spin and full spin throws.
Top Throwing Knives For Beginners
Here are some great throwing knife sets you can get. All are “triple sets” (3 knife sets), and all can be good for beginners, but again…it depends on the beginner. I prefer larger knives (minimum 12 inches) and am convinced that those are some of the best throwing knives for beginners. I think that it’s easier to learn with a knife that has good length and weight, but I am including knives of various sizes, because some people just prefer smaller knives (especially if throwing indoors). So look over this list and see if any of these seem right for you.
Under 7 Inches: Ninja Stealth Silver Throwing Knives
I don’t recommend throwing knives this small at wood targets, because they will bounce back at you if they don’t stick. My son actually had a 6” knife bounce back and stab him in the face. So yeah…not recommended.
However, if you’re throwing at cardboard targets, you should be okay.
For small knives, the Ninja Stealth silver throwing knives are pretty good. You’ll also find them on Amazon listed under Ninja Stealth and also under Whetstone Cutlery throwing knives.
They’re just under 7” total length, are made of stainless steel, and weigh practically nothing. So that makes them more of a novelty item for serious knife throwers. Their size limits their value to short distance throwing, ideally indoors or outdoors with zero wind.
Despite them having sharpened edges, they really have little tactical value, they suck hard at longer distances (like, beyond 2 spins), and they are basically worthless for hunting, camping, survival, or any practical purpose. So why do so many people love these little throwing knives? Why are they one of the best selling throwing knives in the world?
Because they’re super cheap, they look cool, and they’re great for killing time in your bedroom, throwing at pizza boxes. 😉
7 – 9 Inches: Gil Hibben Gen. 2 Throwing Knives
Just about anything designed by Gil Hibben is going to make you happy. The guy designed the weaponry for the Klingons in Star Trek, plus stuff for Rambo and Expendables, so obviously there’s some fun stuff here. There are many great GH models to choose from in this size range, so singling one of them out is kind of arbitrary.
The Generation 2 throwers come in a large (8 5/8 inches) and small size (7 1/8 inches). Kids will do well with either size, but for adults, you’ll appreciate having that extra 1 ½ inches of length on the large one. Still, for those who are into competitions, these are more like toys and wouldn’t even be long enough to compete with.
But they look pretty cool, right?
9 – 12 Inches: Gil Hibben Large Tanto Throwers
It’s nice to have throwing knives that were designed by someone who actually throws, and Gil Hibben is a great thrower as well as designer. One of his trademarks is that “trigger grip” – a little nub that sticks out right where a trigger would be on a gun. That little curve of metal acts to slow that knife’s rotation as it leaves your hand, allowing for greater control, especially at longer distances.
Gil’s Tanto throwers also have the distinct tanto point on the blade, which was pioneered by the American knife company Cold Steel (I love their throwing knives, but they aren’t on this list because they aren’t sold as sets). The GH Tantos come in large and small sizes, so make sure to get the right one. The large Hibben Tanto is about 11 1/2 inches, while the small one is only 7 inches overall length.
Get the large one. 😉
12 To 14 Inches: Boker Magnum Bailey Ziel II Throwing Knives
Like the GH knives above, the Ziel II was also designed by a legendary knife thrower/maker: John Bailey. This knife is one of the most beautiful knives I’ve ever bought, and it throws really well. Being made of stainless steel, though, it’s susceptible to bending and breaking at the tip after repeated throws against wood targets. But that’s the only drawback. These throwing knives are awesome and are highly recommended.
The Ziel II looks totally badass and lethal, but in reality this is a knife designed for professional competition knife throwers. It has no edge, is perfectly balanced for spin throwing, and is one of the safest and best performing throwing knives on the market. It has perfect length and weight. Dammit, it’s just such an awesome throwing knife!
Out of all the shiny, stainless steel knives you can buy online, this one is hands down my favorite, and I believe it is just about the best throwing knife for a total beginner. I wrote up a full article about it a while back, so check that one out if you’re interested.
Custom Made Throwing Knives
All the knives above are commercially made (mostly made in China or Taiwan) and are mass produced using some type of stainless steel. This makes them very affordable and easy to obtain. Knives like these are great for beginners, because many beginners just want to try out this whole knife throwing thing and see how they like it without spending a lot of money on premium knives.
But some beginners prefer to jump in headfirst and buy only the best.
If that’s you, then you will likely not be buying cheap knives on typical e-commerce sites. Amazon does have some higher quality knives at reasonable prices (see our article “Cold Steel Throwing Knives”), but even those are just entry level. If you are serious about getting into competition, then you may want to get even bigger, heavier knives by custom knife makers like Joe Darrah, Rob Crozier, and Bill Page. Be prepared to spend $30 and up (way up) per individual knife.
Be sure to check out the links to those guys for custom throwing knife ideas, and to make some new friends 🙂 Many custom knife makers just sell their stuff via eBay and social media rather than full-blown e-commerce websites. So yeah, go say hi, LIKE them or whatever, browse through their photos, and go check out their products.
And as I mentioned, I’ll be following up with an article on high end throwing knives before too long.
No Spin Throwing Knives For Beginners
I should also mention knives specifically designed for no-spin techniques. If you’re learning to throw without spin, then you should also check out Flying Steel throwing knives. They are very simple and sleek (but very high quality), which is what you want for no spin knives. They are a bit more high end and don’t come in sets (to my knowledge), but if you’re serious about this type of throwing, then at some point you’ll want to move to FS throwers and spikes.
If you are looking for cheaper no spin throwing knives, then you might take a look at Cold Steel’s Pro Balance thrower and Pro Balance Sport (it’s lighter, cheaper cousin).
Here they are in action…